Monday 11 December 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 11/12/2023

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Recep Tayyip Erdogan (on right) in Athens last week

Image: Shutterstock

Affairs / Hannah Lucinda Smith

Keep your friends close

The often-fraught relationship between Turkey and Greece is enjoying a smooth patch. Last week, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis concluded their meeting in the Greek capital by signing the Athens Declaration, the result of months of warming relations between the two nations. Ankara and Athens have agreed to focus on maintaining peace and resolving their disputes through dialogue. One Greek newspaper reported that the country had seen “a different Erdogan”.

Most of Turkey’s other allies are still seeing the same Erdogan, however – and are likely to continue doing so as long as the dual crises of Ukraine and Gaza continue. The president has been on a charm offensive since he won his third term in office in May, hiring a market-friendly economics team and trying to mend diplomatic bridges to tempt foreign investors back to Turkey. Greece was low-hanging fruit; though the two countries have come to the brink of war over issues including gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean, making a U-turn will not cost Erdogan any face or money back home.

Palestine, however, is Erdogan’s totem, and a pillar of his domestic popularity. He has effectively torched his newly fixed relations with Israel, accusing it of genocide in Gaza and saying that Hamas is a “freedom fighting” group. He has also extended his outrage to the US and European countries that are backing Israel. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, which Turkey has been supplying with drones, Volodymyr Zelensky’s support for Israel risks pushing Erdogan further towards Russia.

Western countries are already nervous about Erdogan’s willingness to help Vladimir Putin keep Russia’s economy afloat. This week, the UK sanctioned several Turkish companies that it accused of supplying Russia’s armaments industry. There might be more should a proposed Turkish gas hub, which could bring Russian energy to Europe, go ahead. Erdogan’s relations with his nearest neighbour are harmonious again but reconciliations further afield seem unlikely.

Hannah Lucinda Smith is Monocle’s Istanbul correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.


Politics / Poland

Pole position

Today the newly elected Polish parliament will vote on giving confidence to its interim, two-week-old government, led by the outgoing prime minister, Law and Justice’s (PiS) Mateusz Morawiecki. The vote, however, is a foregone conclusion. Despite winning 194 seats in the 2023 general election on 15 October, the incumbent party failed to secure the 231 votes needed to form a majority. Morawiecki himself does not seem to believe in a successful outcome. There is no evidence that members from other parties are willing to back Morawiecki but he was, nonetheless, tasked with forming the government by PiS-backed president, Andrzej Duda. If he fails, the initiative passes to the parliament, where an alliance of pro-European progressivists commands the block. The alliance would then install its own government, led by former European Council president Donald Tusk, who would become the first Polish politician to lead the cabinet in three different terms. Morawiecki, however, would go down in history as the Polish prime minister with the shortest tenure.

Grab: the wheel deal in Southeast Asia

Image: Natthawut Taeja

Business / Asia

Upwardly mobile

Since its founding in Malaysia in 2012 as a taxi-hailing app, Singapore-based technology company Grab has grown into one of Southeast Asia’s most prominent multinationals. Operating in more than 400 cities across eight countries, the platform offers services ranging from food delivery and shopping to lending and insurance. According to the company’s head of mobility, Samir Kumar, Grab has adopted a “hyperlocal” approach to its transport offerings.

To cover the traffic-heavy cities of Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, where motorbikes are common, the company launched GrabBike, which offers motorbikes to hire. And in Singapore, where motorbikes are scarce but poodles and shiba inus are omnipresent, customers can choose the GrabPet option to hail a dog-friendly car. One big regional shift is Grab’s commitment to electric vehicles; the company wants its platform to be carbon-neutral by 2040. Though this sounds like an ambitious plan, it’s already under way: green-liveried electric tuk-tuks are now roaming the streets of several Thai towns.

For more on Grab and other businesses to look out for in the year ahead, pick up a copy of ‘The Forecast’, which is out now.

Illustration: Karin Kellner

Advent gift guide / Global

Bright and sparkling

Looking for the perfect present this holiday season? Then let us inspire you with our Advent gift guide. Every day until Christmas, we are showcasing one item featured in our Alpino newspaper, which is out now in kiosks and on our online shop.

Grand Siècle champagne, Laurent-Perrier
Can you ever go wrong with a bottle of champagne as a gift? Laurent-Perrier’s Grand Siècle blends three vintages of its best grapes from its finest plots to achieve the perfect sip of bubbly.

Beyond the Headlines

In print / Issue 169

Security briefing

In an age of ideological division and looming environmental catastrophe, a nation’s ability to ensure its citizens’ safety is more important than ever. Monocle meets some of the people around the world who are working to keep the peace.

Rising from the depths

Image: Kyle Johnson

‘USS Maine’ Commanding Officer Travis Wood and the control centre

Image: Kyle Johnson

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Image: Eline

Monocle Radio / The Menu

‘Slow Food, Fast Cars’ and Eline restaurant

Monocle’s Isabella Jewell sits down with renowned Italian chef Massimo Bottura and his wife, Lara Gilmore, to discuss their new food-and-lifestyle book, ‘Slow Food, Fast Cars’. Also in the programme: Lucrezia Motta heads to Eline restaurant in east London to discover its take on festive French dining.


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